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OPINION

GOP’s Coronavirus Bill Offers Billions in Gov’t. Loans – But Bans Nonprofits Likely Catering to Low-Income People

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Senate Democrats and Republicans are locked in a battle over the latest coronavirus economic rescue package, but what each party is fighting for reveals what is at the center of their universes.

Democrats are focused on getting money into the hands of the poor and those displaced by “stay at home,” “shelter in place,” and other work stoppages vital to helping halt the pandemic.

Republicans are focused on bailouts and secret slush funds for their corporate BFFs.

Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner, now an NBC News and MSNBC legal analyst, makes clear what the GOP’s motivation is – and goes so far as to call it “graft.”

And now we learn the GOP is once again waging war against the poor during a time that their lives are hardest hit. And they’re serving two of their masters by using their coronavirus package to wage a culture war as well.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent writes there’s a “hidden” provision “in the massive stimulus bill, which was drafted by Senate Republicans.”

The GOP bill offers $350 billion in small business loans to businesses if they don’t lay off their workers.

But there’s a catch.

Those loans exclude “nonprofits receiving Medicaid expenditures.” In other words, organizations like Planned Parenthood.

If that weren’t bad enough (it is – Planned Parenthood is vital now more than ever) it goes further than that, as Sargent reveals.

“Democratic aides believe this language would exclude from eligibility for this funding a big range of other nonprofits that get Medicaid funding, such as home and community-based disability providers; community-based nursing homes, mental health providers and health centers; group homes for the disabled; and even rape crisis centers.”

The legislation, if passed as is, could harm tens of millions of people, according to Mara Youdelman, the managing attorney of the National Health Law Program’s D.C. office.

“We should be doing everything possible to keep them in businesses, both to help manage the pandemic and to keep people needing routine care healthy and out of overwhelmed hospitals,” Youdelman told Sargent.

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OPINION

Not Just Dog Walking – IG Trump Fired Had ‘Mostly Completed’ a Report on ‘Fast Track’ of Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

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The Inspector General fired by President Donald Trump late Friday was investigating the possibly illegal orders from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a staffer to walk his dog and pick up his dry cleaning, and other personal errands. There are also complaints about the “quasi-official role” Pompeo’s wife (photo) plays in the State Dept.,  as she did when he was head of CIA. And the White House freely admits Pompeo asked Trump to fire Steve Linick.

But The Washington Post reveals Linick wasn’t just investigating the dog walking – which may have been leaked to throw reporters off the scent of the real scandal.

Linick had “mostly completed” a report on what may have been a false or illegal emergency declaration allowing the fast-tracking of a massive $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. President Trump has strong ties to that country’s leaders and appears to have done them many favors, including protecting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the cover up of the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“House Democrats have discovered that the fired IG had mostly completed an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s widely criticized decision to skirt Congress with an emergency declaration to approve billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia last year, aides on the Foreign Affairs Committee tell me,” says Washington Post opinion writer Greg Sargent. “Committee Democrats have also learned that the State Department was recently briefed on the IG’s conclusions in that investigation, aides say.”

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) told Sargent, “Everybody has been trying to figure out why this relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia is so strangely close.”

Last year in July Trump vetoed a bill that would have blocked the sale of the weapons to Saudi Arabia – and then turned around and did it anyway.

The dog walking investigation might have been legitimate, and it’s an abuse of taxpayer funds that in any other administration would have led to the Secretary of State’s immediate “resignation.”

But the investigation into billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which some now say might be evidence of corruption, may be the real reason.

No one knows, because Trump fired the Inspector General.

UPDATE –
NBC News confirms: “Linick was also investigating use of emergency declaration last year to sell arms to Saudis over objections of Congress.”

 

Photo: U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Mrs. Susan Pompeo arrive in Rome, Italy, on October 1, 2019.
State Department photo by Ron Przysucha via Flickr

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OPINION

‘Scum’: GOP Congressman Faces Angry Backlash After Grilling Whistleblower Rick Bright About His Blood Pressure

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Rep. Markwayne Mullins (R-OK) spent his time during the hearing to interview whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright about his high blood pressure. While many members of Congress were asking questions about the investigations into hydroxychloroquine, the national stockpile, the administration’s lack of response to early warnings about the coronavirus and how to protect Americans.

The conservative plumber demanded details from Dr. Bright on why he was on medical leave from his new position at the National Institute of Health, where he transitioned after being ousted at the Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Bright explained that being ousted, thrust into the spotlight and attacked by conservative media has been more stress than he’s accustomed to experiencing as a doctor.

Mullin then asked why Dr. Bright could appear before Congress but not go to work at the NIH. Mullin didn’t give Dr. Bright time to respond to the question but witnesses are generally subpoenaed to appear before Congress. Bright explained he was taking his vacation time to deal with the Congressional hearing.

The internet swiftly responded to Mullin, calling him out for what they called embarrassing, cruel and an unnecessary line of questioning that didn’t get to the bottom of why over 83,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.

Moments later Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar attacked Dr. Bright, saying he isn’t showing up to work when he’s needed the most. It’s an ironic claim given Azar and Trump removed Bright from his position. If he was so necessary, it’s unclear why Dr. Bright was removed.

You can see their responses below:

.@RepMullin, a former plumber and talk radio host from Oklahoma, is getting right to the issues affecting frightened Americans in a global viral pandemic: a congressional whistleblower's blood pressure and salary. #DrBright

— John Charpentier (@snpsandsnRNPs) May 14, 2020

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OPINION

Pompeo Engages in Huge Coronavirus Gaslighting: ‘Best Experts Think It Was Man-Made’ – Which Is False – Then Flip-Flops

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is engaging is a campaign of disinformation, conspiracy theories, and gaslighting in efforts to shore up President Donald Trump’s MAGA base while ramping up their attacks on China over the coronavirus that to date has killed more than 66,000 people in America.

On Sunday’s ABC News’ “This Week” (video below) Pompeo said the “best experts” think it was “manmade,” referring to the novel coronavirus, then immediately switched and said he believes and trusts the Intelligence Community which says it was not.

“We’ve said from the beginning this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China,” Pompeo  told ABC’s Martha Radditz.  “We took a lot of grief for that from the outset but I think the whole world can see now.”

That’s also false. There was never any question that the virus that causes COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China. (There was one Chinese official who suggested the coronavirus came from the U.S. but no one believed that lie.) The Trump administration took no “grief” for saying the virus came from China – they took tremendous grief for insisting on calling it the “Chinese virus,” and the “Chinese flu,” given the racist implications of those characterizations that have been causing harassment and attacks on those believed to be of Chinese origin.

“I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan,” Pompeo told ABC’s Martha Radditz.

There is no credible evidence to date that is true.

Radditz responded, asking Pompeo, “Do you believe it was man-made or genetically modified?”

“Look, the best experts so far seem to think it was man-made, I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point,” Pompeo replied.

Stunned, Radditz tried to challenge Pompeo.

“Your Office of the DNI says the consensus, the scientific consensus was ‘not man-made or genetically modified.'”

Pompeo doesn’t flinch, doesn’t say he misspoke, but he does gaslight: “That’s right. I agree with that. I’ve seen their analysis, I’ve seen the summary that you saw that was released publicly, I have no reason to doubt that that is accurate.”

Radditz, still grappling with Pompeo saying two entirely different things at the same time, pushes further, while giving him the benefit of the doubt, says: “Oh, OK, so just to be clear you do not think it was man-made or genetically modified?”

Pompeo does not say, “Correct,” or, “No, it was not man-made or genetically modified.”

Instead, Pompeo offers up this statement: “I’ve seen what the Intelligence Community has said, I have no reason to believe that they’ve got it wrong.”

News outlets, like Bloomberg, decided to report that “Pompeo stopped short of saying the virus was man-made.”

And yet, he began by saying, “the best experts so far seem to think it was man-made.”

But as Radditz noted, the U.S. government’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) issued a statement saying: “The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified,” and added it “will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”

So there is no official Intelligence Community finding that the coronavirus “came from that laboratory in Wuhan,” or is “man-made,” and yet Pompeo claims he is citing “experts” saying it was man-made.

Gaslighting, disinformation, and conspiracy-theory spreading at its best.

Watch:

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